Terii’s Cycling Babble

Balance of Good and Bad.
February 19, 2018, 8:33 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Murphy keeps tweaking my nose, I swear. Let me stick to chronological order though as the good and bad happened just over this past weekend.

So, after my last post, the weather did its bounce again. We had the snow for almost a week when went from the freezing to temps rocketing up into the 40’s F and a hard rain.

At 5 am on February 2nd, I stepped out to let Loke tend business and it was a pouring down. I stepped out at 7 am and what a change. The temperature had plummeted to below freezing and huge drifting flakes like feathers were swirling thickly through the air. It was piling up on the inch or more of water left by the rain to turn into an instant slush. I had too much to do for a ride in it.

The next morning, that mess had frozen solid. I thought about taking an early ride, but decided I didn’t want to wrestle with the layers for 3 miles of jarring my teeth loose on all the deeply rutted ice.

But the snow kept coming. About lunch time we had almost another 2 inches and with Loke having been a world class bully for 2 days, I decided the extra padding of snow was probably enough that my teeth and the trike would survive the ruts.

As I wrestled with the layers and electric socks, Loke was in the way the entire time. When he wasn’t physically hindering me, he was woofing and stomping his paws at me.

The furball was as hyper as i’ve seen him in years. I think the 28 F temp with 21 F windchill and plenty of ice and snow was a siren call to his husky soul. He was all vim and vigor (or ‘piss and vinegar’ as my dad would say). I’m pretty sure he could have run for 10+ miles and still wanted more.

Really?! Oh come ON!

Of course, that first burst of enthusiasm was snapped less than 100 yards (or meters, take your pick) from the apartment door when I heard a metallic ‘thawang’ pop. I recognized it. One of the clamps holding his running bar to the seat breaking. I swerved in behind a car, in case a random traffic came down the tiny street, to check and ponder. Yep. Broken hose clamp. The bar was loose, barely held on by the remaining clamp. It wasn’t going to hold up if Loke was going to be hyper.

I considered walking the trike back home, but that wasn’t going to make for a pleasant day with Loke. But wait! There should be a spare clamp at the storage my undependable memory told me. I decided to risk it. With a tight grip on Loke’s harness, we made our slow way there.

Thankfully my arm was still attached to my shoulder when we got there. One advantage to Loke getting older. His yanking might have enthusiasm, but he’s not as strong as he used to be.

Sure enough! My memory was right. There were actually TWO extra clamps at the storage. Awesome!

Would have destroyed the derailleur if I’d had a 20″ back wheel.

The ride was not as rough as I had feared, though getting through the park to the storage showed the perfect example of what would have destroyed a derailleur on my Trice with 20″ wheel. Made me glad again to have my Sprint 26. Mostly though, the ice on the cycle paths was somewhat smooth except for a slight rut here or there. There were a few patches of slippy ice where even my studs didn’t want to grip, but Loke had me covered.

With Loke’s cheerful enthusiasm, I would have added more distance than the 5.14 miles we covered, but during the attempt, I discovered that my legs desperately needed an extra layer to take the winds that were blowing across the open fields by the garrison, but in under 2 minutes, I had to turn back around and rush for areas more sheltered as my legs started to turn ice.

There were a few spots where I added a bit more distance. A total of about a mile. Mostly those turns, which took me on strips I’ve not ridden in some months, were because of other dogs on the path. I simply didn’t feel like trying to pass them, so turned to go in different directions.

It felt good to get back home and warm up. As for Loke? Completely unaffected by the outing. He immediately started harassing Jens and Jens’ sister who was here for lunch. Such a bully!

There was a 5 days stretch between that ride and the next. My heavy thermal tights have worn out and the weather was much too cold to tackle with just my medium and light weight layers, even if I piled them up over each other. Not to mention that makes it difficult to flex the hips and knees. So, I stared mournfully out the windows at the bitterly cold but beautiful days and settled for what walks I could manage with the furry one.

And Loke. OMG! LOKE! He was a complete pain in the rump. He was doing things completely out of character for him. Destroying things he had never shown an interest in even as a puppy. I actually couldn’t remember him being this huge a hassle when he was a puppy. I’m sure he was as bad or even worse, but I can’t remember it. So bad he couldn’t be left loose in the apartment. Every time I had to go somewhere, I now pull everything out of the bathroom that he might destroy and covert into a sort of kennel with his bed, some chew toys, and water dish. Better that then taking him to the vet AGAIN to get crap he shouldn’t have swallowed out of his stomach. I’m not talking food. I’m talking cardboard, plastic, and who knows what else.

So, on the 9th when it warmed up to right about the freezing mark and I started getting dressed and harnessed him, he was excited.

With blue skies above the snowy glory of the landscape, it was very pretty. Just so hard to dress for! Between sun and shadow, sheltered areas and wide open spots with windchill, the temperature swung drastically between 50 to 33 F.

With the snow taking its time to melt, I decided to go enjoy the grave mounds before it started to disappear. It was a bit of a risk, to comfort at least. The last time I rode the mounds during a snowy time, it was brutally rutted and required rattling, bumping, and bouncing along at 2 mph.

Especially pretty mantled with snow under blue skies.

This time, it was much nicer! Snow, firmly packed without having gone to ice, good traction. The mounds had a good cover of snow, very little winter browned grass peeking through. Lovely against the blue sky. Loke was thrilled, he pulled us along the trail with a spark of his old spunk. I was quite surprised when I was able to ride right up the two little steep climbs of the mound path. There was some tire slippage, but enough grip I didn’t have to get up and push.

After we cleared the mound path, I decided to add a little more distance. Try to get Loke to settle and stop being so destructive.

The sun was getting pretty low as I finished up the last mile. The temp dropped to about 25 F and it started getting to my toes as well as fingers and legs. That definitely put a stop to any addition distance as my electric socks had stayed home. 6.68 miles.

Our next outing was February 12th.

I was feeling a bit low during and after that ride. Cabin fever sort of mentality going on. Desperate for a change of scenery beyond the superficial of ‘snow or no-snow’. Pretty sure that out of the past 210 rides, 205 of them have been on the river loop with the occasional addition of a mile or two. Still all very much on the same length of paths.

I miss exploring. I miss new medieval churches, rune stones, burial grounds. All those things that made blogging so much more fascinating.┬áMy trike used to be wings. The past 2 years or more it’s been reduced to a treadmill. I ride because I should exercise the dog or I need exercise. Getting harder to find even small pleasures in what is becoming a chore.

I was somewhat hopeful for some kind of enjoyment though as I started wrestling layers on. It was just right about 32 F and snowing. Loke certainly was excited and not just because I threw open the balcony to let the winter chill in as I pulled on wool and, just in case, electric socks. Maybe I’d even make an errand of the ride by going to Loke’s groomer to book an appointment to get him all pretty and fluffy.

I really didn’t want to remove the mud-guard…

The entire ride was about nixed as soon as I started dragging the trike to the street. There was about an inch and a half of fresh, wet, dense snow over the stuff we’ve had for over a week. It packed hard around the wheels with every turn, and squeezed hard between the mudguard and tire until it didn’t want to turn at all. I would have put the trike right back in its place, but Loke went all cute and pitiful on me. Yeah, turning back wasn’t a good idea or I’d have a mutiny.

Hoping for the best on the paths and roads, I put all my weight on the running bar and slid the frozen tires across the snow to the sidewalk. Then it was about 15 minutes of work to chip and scrape the wheels loose. Loke huffed and woofed at me the whole time.

None of the snow had been plowed. I don’t know if it was because the forecast said it should be melting fast or it just caught them unprepared. Even on the little streets it was hard work, though Loke, excited to be out in the cold and snow, did his elderly best to help. He pulled hard as he could and I appreciated the assistance.

*gasp* He lifted his head!!!

It was some hard work, but tolerable. Until we reached the cycle paths. With just some feet and a few bike tires to churn, rather than pack it, the snow was harder to deal with. Nor did it help that Loke stopped pulling, becoming determined instead to sniff EVERY inch of the way. That’s the problem with being on the paths. The constant parade of dogs lay down scent that Loke is determined to examine minutely. For the next 2 miles, I swear he only lifted his head once and I got a picture of it and the snow on his nose. Sometimes he hack and cough certainly because he was about to choke to death on all the snow he was inhaling as he crammed his nose right down to the ground underneath.

It all just left me frustrated and exhausted. Took over an hour to do less than 3 miles. The same scenery as the past 100 times, marked and scored deep into my memory with every variation of daylight and weather. I needed something new! Or at least something not so recent. *grumble*

Also, preferably somewhere with fewer dogs to leave scents for Loke to sniff…

The weight of frustration and apathy kept me in for a few days. My last ride was Friday, February 16th. It was a combination of things that came together. Annoyance with the harassing husky. The tedium of the River Loop. Jens being home.

Jens’ working from the convenience of our apartment was the crucial thing. I’ve not had much confidence in myself or Loke. My hip, his feet, that kind of thing. But if the hubby was in Uppsala instead of Stockholm, he could come rescue Loke or both of us if something went wrong. I double checked and yep, he said.

Though the temperature was about 36 F, instead of rain, thick fluffy flakes of snow were coming down and swirling through the air with only a slight amount of wind.

Loke, of course, was intrigued as I started pulling on the layers and electric socks.

The snow was very pretty, little bits of pure white feathers drifting through the air, but such a pain to ride in. It went up the nose when I’d inhale and not even the Da Brim could keep it out of my eyes.┬áContact lenses don’t like it when the salinity of the moisture in the eyes gets too low. It makes them pucker.

You know what? I didn’t care if I was choking on snow flakes or trying to keep my warped contact lenses from leaping out of my eyes. Just the thought I had the chance to go beyond the River Loop by more than just the Grave Mounds made me giddy. I loved what the swirling snow was doing to the landscape as well.

As we pushed on the same cycle highway I take to do the Grave Mound path, the temperature started to drop and the snowfall thickened. I’d begun the ride with just a thin layer under a mid-layer of wool under my cycle shirt, and completely without gloves. About the time we were approaching the turn off for the Mounds, I stopped to pull out my heavy wool top, dragging over my cycle shirt, and gloves as well.

As I reached the turn, I decided things were going well. My hip felt amazingly good. No pain in the feet. I wasn’t cold and Loke was doing just fine. I was practically giddy as we passed the turn that would have taken us back to the River Loop paths.

The cycle path going north, parallel to the Vattholma Road, has a nice decent down from the turn off of the Grave Mounds. Loke went completely bonkers as we went straight. He threw his weight into the harness and pulled us down the hill at over 12 mph. I was grinning and giggling with snowflakes flying into my eyes, nose, and teeth and Loke squinted as he loped along with a flop-tongued husky smile. We’ve not gone cruising down that hill since October.

As we reached the bottom of the hill and started backup where the old tracks used to cross path and road, I took a moment to bump up the sock setting from 1 to 2. There’s not much there to stop even the slightest wind. Like Loke and I down the hill, it just picks up speed. Brrr. Also the temp continued to drop. By the time we crossed Vattholma Road for the small, icy country roads, my Garmin displayed 28 F.

It felt so good to be off the River Loop. Words can’t describe it. 90% of my riding of late has been, ‘I should ride to get some exercise’ or ‘Loke needs to run a bit.’ No want, no desire, no real enthusiasm. About as much fun as hitting a treadmill in a white, windowless room with a TV playing the same episode of a show as the previous 20 times you walked on it. I haven’t felt capable of getting off that treadmill though. My hip uncomfortable or me being uncertain if Loke might have a seizure or problems with his feet because of the angry skin between his toes.

So, the Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Loop of old was a good test. The shortest of my loops when 10-15 mile rides were short and not a challenge. The days where rides on what is now the River Loop weren’t even worth pulling on my cycle shoes, let alone wrestling on full winter gear.

But you know what? We nailed that loop! Okay, so we were out for almost 4 hours to do 10.2. 30 minutes of that was hanging out at Starbucks for hot chocolate as the women working there took turns to come out and chat while loving on Loke. It was still incredibly freeing.

And Loke. Oh, Loke. He channeled his younger self at times on that run, even more than he had coming down the hill between Gamla Uppsala and the old railbed. It’s obvious he remembers those early years of his fiery youth when this was one of this favorite loops to run. There’s one stretch with a series of little hills that I call ‘the roller coaster’ stretch. Loke used to take it at full tilt, hitting over 20 mph on that first hill and pulling like a freight train on full throttle to keep the speed up the next incline to go speeding down the other side. I smile remembering those times, the joyous husky, wind in my hair, laughing gleefully.

Well, he did that same thing this time. The top speed was only 12 mph and we slowed to about 5 mph on the climbs, but his spirit and joy was the same.

My enjoyment was a bit more muted as one section of that jaunt has been butchered. It used to be lined with thick marches of trees to either side and a gorgeous traditional Swedish country style wood rail fence that caught snow so beautifully in the winters. So green and cool in the summers. Well, it’s been knocked flat on both side and just obliterated and scarred. Turned ugly all in the name of progress I’m sure.

Even with that ruined section of landscape and the fact that the rest of it is a loop I’ve ridden dozens of times over the years, it wasn’t the River Loop. And there was the snow. The lovely, fluffy, drifting snow.

I had a nervous moment just beyond the roller coaster stretch. We were coming down the final hill, a long gentle drop that goes by a stable area. I’ve never had any trouble with the horses there, so thought nothing of it as I let Loke stretch his legs again.

Then there was a thunder of hooves. Startled, I looked to see a group of about 6 horses galloping through the snow over the flank of a small hill in their pasture, covered with rocks and birch trees. They were racing along the fence-line in a mad charge for the far end of the pasture away from us. Running horses are poetry in motion. Add snow, hills and birch trees, it borders on magical, when it doesn’t send me into a panic.

I swore and stopped as they bunched up and milled at the far corner of the fence. I still feel horrible about that time I spooked one horse so badly she charged through an electric fence and led the rest of her companions galloping across open fields toward the roar of a distant highway. I really didn’t want a repeat of that incident.

It’s the first time I’ve seen so many horses in that particular pasture. Generally there’ve been only 2 or 3 at most. Two of them had always been curious and quickly became used to us. It appears they’re not kept there any more though.

20 minutes to inch over 200 yards. I called out to them, trying to calm them down and get them curious instead of frightened. I think if there’d been fewer of them, it would have worked, but with 6 or so, a few would start to settle, then another would set them off and they’d get wound up again. Settle, then still another would spook… round and round. They wouldn’t have twitched even an ear at someone walking by with a dog or someone on a bike with or without a dog. But my freaky looking trike with Loke can be a bit much for some horses.

I had to settle for moving a few yards and then talking at them until they started to calm again.

Shortly beyond that was the boring stretch by the busy road. It was still snowing as I crept up the hill, approaching the mall and Vaksala church.

By the time I reached the mall and Starbucks, it had stopped snowing. The hot chocolate was so very welcome.

As I left the mall, riding along the paths through the 4H pastures, an old man with trekking poles called out a greeting. I stopped to chat as he asked about the trike some and mentioned how calm Loke was for a husky. He was especially impressed when I told him it was because Loke was almost 13 years old. He was shocked when the answer to ‘How far will you have gone when you’re done’ was 17 or so kilometers. The idea of an old dog running so far was boggling to him. He also seemed impressed again when he warned me of ice on the path and I said I had studded tires. ‘They make those for bikes?!’

It was a nice meeting.

We made it back to the storage with 10.2 miles. Loke was quite disappointed as I put the trike away and we waited for Jens to come get us. He paced around and tried to bully me to keep going.

It was a good ride. I enjoyed it, even with almost drowning on snow. Best of all, Loke was the most settled he’d been in over a month! Apparently 10 miles was the magic distance. 6 miles too little. 10 miles, just right. It might have taken hours and hours, but I can definitely think of worse ways to spend the day. Like inching along the River Loop, dragging a husky who’s determined to smell every inch to the last molecule.

In hindsight, I was even a bit careless on the ride. Going down some of those hills, I acted as if I were wearing my SPDs and clipped in. That could have ended badly. I need to watch that and keep my feet properly braced when getting some speed.

I felt the ride in my legs on Saturday. So, I took a break.

I had a revelation on that day though. Coming back from grocery shopping, I took a back way home, which coincidentally is one of my old cycle loops. 13-14 mile range if I remember correctly. For over 2 weeks now, we had been having something like proper winter weather. The snow had been around for a good while and while we had started to enter short periods of above freezing, the snow was still lingering in a gentle thaw, with the occasional covering of a fresh layer. Typical, proper behavior for the subtle shift between winter and spring. None of this crap with 2 feet of snow gone in 3 hours when getting hit with torrential rain and 45 F temps in January.

It’s been years since we’ve had snow stick around so long. YEARS. These past 2+ weeks have been something like the winters from when I first came here when it would arrive in November and disappear sometime after March. Those are the winters I miss and this reminder has been so very nice.

Sunday, February 18th, I didn’t ride again. I’m not sure why. The day just kinda slipped by. About 2 pm, I decided to still get out and enjoy the winter, but by taking a walk out at Wiks with Loke.

It didn’t happen. We were walking out toward the car and Loke pulled out the leash to go mark the bushes. He trots everywhere with his tail raised like a banner. Well, as he walked away, something didn’t look right about the uglier part of a husky (or any dog). I took a quick, closer look and saw blood. Not a lot of it, but since Loke has had a tumor there that ruptured back in October 2015, turning our apartment and car into a scene reminiscent of a slasher horror movie, I wasn’t going to play any ‘wait and see’.

I put him in the car and drove directly to ‘our’ vet clinic. Fortunately, it was quiet there so they were able to see him right away. Well, kinda. It was a new vet there, so she took some time to look over Loke’s chart. She was a bit dazed by the length of it to be honest.

Well, she took a look at the fuzzy and asked, ‘How long has he had this swelling?’ I responded by asking, ‘What swelling?’

I felt like such a horrible doggie mom when she showed me. I just don’t spend that much time looking at Loke’s exposed rump parts when he jogs along. I tend to prefer to look at other things than that part of my dog. It’s kinda like looking at road kill. Just don’t wanna do it.

So, I cuddled Loke while she lanced and aspirated to send samples to the lab. Hopefully we’ll have the results this week. I just need to keep an eye on on it (yay) and make sure it doesn’t get bigger or look somehow worse.

Poor Jens. Hearing me say, “I’m taking Loke to Wiks”, only to get a phone call 15 minutes later with, “We’re at the vet.”

So, a really good day cycling off the River Loop balanced with an unexpected trip to the vet. Yeah. Murphy just has a blast with us Montgomery-s.